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Cassie Fait, AfterTaste Columnist

Cassie Fait 

is a senior studying journalism and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Email her at or find her on Twitter at @foodiefait and Instagram at @cassiefait.

AfterTASTE: Ads sexualize products, stereotype buyers

In the early years of advertising, promotions showed the benefits of a certain product. Then advertisements became more sensationalized. Consumers no longer wished to hear just about the product, which resulted in companies selling “the feeling” associated with the product instead.

By eliciting feelings, advertisements become aimed towards a target group. But those promotional materials can be extreme. The media promotes gender and cultural stereotyping in food advertising, and those stereotypes create problematic depictions.

Sexualization in food advertisements run rampantly in various media outlets. Fast food restaurants especially display sexual images. In a Carl’s Jr. ad, Glamazon bikini-clad Paris Hilton is holding a burger with the words “She’ll tell you size doesn’t matter. She’s lying,” plastered beside her head. That sexual innuendo is so unnecessary for a burger ad.

Other companies similarly sexualize women. Sometimes women are posed as faceless individuals and nothing more than a physical bombshell. In an Arby’s ad, two burgers are posed as breasts, with two hands grasping the burgers with the words “We’re about to reveal something you’ll really drool over.” The ad creates an unnecessary placement of burgers and words. There is absolutely no connection between burgers and sex.

It’s not just fast food companies, but also soda companies that fall into stereotyping. In a Coca-Cola Zero ad, the can is supposed to be shaped like a man who’s wearing red swim trunks. Coke is selling the idea that men can get fit and be beach-ready if they drink the beverage. Along those same lines, actress Sofia Vergara is drinking a Diet Pepsi in the new skinny can in an ad. Diet Pepsi is suggesting that if women drink Diet Pepsi, they can look like the actress. The problematic gender stereotypes show how the media places people in molds.

In contrast, men are pushed to be extra masculine in ads. Anything else is considered feminine. In an ad for whipped-flavored Pinnacle vodka, a man in a kitchen cutting onions, with the words “Whipped so good,” underneath. He is considered “whipped” because he’s placed in a non-masculine role. He is being feminized since he is working in a kitchen, a stereotypical “woman’s environment.”

Advertising doesn’t just stereotype gender but also cultures. A Lipton Tea ad displays an offensively painted Asian man for their herbal tea line. Lipton crossed the line of acceptability here. The man in the ad was completely typecasted. That ad reflects an ignorance in representing a group of people.

Magazines, television and the Internet employ ads as a basis for survival and revenue. But the misconstrued messages should call for a less problematic atmosphere.

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